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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default Shadow of the Demon Lord (Robert Schwalb's Dark Fantasy RPG)

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    Shadow of the Demon Lord.
    a role-playing game by Robert J. Schwalb.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert J. Schwalb
    If D&D and WFRP screwed in a church, Shadow of the Demon Lord is what they would have nine months later.
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert J. Schwalb
    The core idea is that the world is one of many realities, each of which is separated by a yawning gulf of darkness called the Void. In the murky depths of this infinite expanse lurk entities of malevolent will, formless, inscrutable beings that have no physical form until called forth into a world, where they become demons. The greatest of these entities is the Demon Lord, a being of vast and incalculable power. The Demon Lord hungers. It craves destruction, to feast on mortal souls, to unravel creation. And over the march of eons, the Demon Lord has broken free from the Void to drag one of many realities screaming into its darkness. In the game, the Demon Lord has drawn near to the world and its shadow creeps across the landscape like ink spilled on a map.
    Links


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    Rob has announced the game and is doing a panel this evening (10/24/14) at GMX in Franklin, TN to discuss the game. I've been authorized to break my NDA and talk about the game. I live in Nashville and have been gaming with Rob for a number of years. This year we've been playtesting the rules for his new RPG Shadow of the Demon Lord released under his own brand (Schwalb Entertainment).

    This weekend we'll be releasing more information about the game and I (along with other playtesters and Rob himself) will be running games of Shadow of the Demon Lord at the convention. This weekend is going to be pretty hectic but I'll try and answer any questions you have that I'm able to answer at this time. The purpose of this thread is to serve as an unofficial clearinghouse for information about the game posted elsewhere and to answer questions about it.

    Google URL Shortener for this thread: http://goo.gl/s6x1yj

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob
    Want to give Demon Lord a spin? Live in TN, KY, AL, GA, NC, or SC? Have your local game store drop a line at [email protected]!
    Last edited by Chambers; 2014-10-29 at 02:57 PM.
    "We have sent many to Hell, to smooth our way," said I, "and we are standing yet and holding blades. What more?"

  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Default Re: Shadow of the Demon Lord (Robert Schwalb's Dark Fantasy RPG)

    Character Sheet.
    Here's a pic of the Character Sheet we're using for the con games. A brief description of what's on there:

    • Ancestry: This is your character's racial heritage. Elf, Dwarf, Jotuun, Nephilim, Orc, Faun, Gnome, Changeling, Goblin, Cambion, and Halfling are some of the Ancestries that we've tested.
    • Path: This is equivalent to class. there are 3 stages of Paths in the game, Novice, Expert, and Master. You choose a Novice Path at lvl 1 (Fighter, Mage, Priest, or Rogue), an Expert Path at lvl 3 (Barbarian, Occultist, Witch, Wizard, Cleric, Bard, Scout, etc), and a Master Path at lvl 7 (Assassin, Acrobat, Weapon Master, Swashbuckler, Destroyer, Magus, Necromancer, etc). The benefits of each Path (called Talents) are staggered through your levels, so you'll continue to gain benefits from your lesser Paths as you advance. There are no Path requirements, i.e. you don't have to be X Path to take Y Path.
    • Ability Scores: Strength, Intellect, Agility, and Willpower are your 4 Ability Scores.
    • Other Scores: Perception, Insanity, Health, Speed, Size and others are determined through your Ability Scores, Ancestry, and Paths.
    • Talents: These are Path abilities, like a Fighters Combat Training talent that makes them more accurate and lets them deal more damage or the Priests Prayer talent to help out an allies die roll with spiritual power.
    • Skills: A list of skills that your character has. Skills don't have ranks, you either have a Skill or you don't.
    • Spells & Traditions: Spells are organized into schools of magic referred to as Traditions (Black Magic, Demonology, Celestial, Technomancy, etc). Spellcasters get access to a number of Traditions as they progress and choose their spells from within their Traditions.


    GMX Pictures.

    Game Room - 2 tables running Shadow of the Demon Lord over the weekend.
    One Two Three Four
    Character Creation - 1 table helping people create characters from a limited selection of Ancestry choices.
    One Two

    Shadow of the Demon Lord Dice!
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    Blogs

    A listing of Blog entries that people have written about Shadow of the Demon Lord.



    Podcasts / Interviews (Those listed in italics are recorded but have not been uploaded yet)



    Panel Discussion, Q&A

    SotDL Panel (GMXv6)

    Here are my notes from Rob's panel on Friday night (10/21/14). I'm not a professional transcriber so I didn't get every word. Consider everything below to be paraphrasing (questions & answers) unless I put it in quotation marks.

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    Rob's Introduction

    Why am I designing this game?

    As much as I loved working on Dungeons & Dragons and the game we came up with, it was not exactly the game I hoped to design. So when I was free from the exclusive contract I decided it as time to design something I wanted to run and play.

    Most of the people I play games with are very busy and don't think about RPGs after the game. They "just want to roleplay, have a good time and not worry about the rules." Shadow of the Demon Lord has enough crunch for hardcore gamers though. It's also designed for my bar buddies who just want to tell stories and kill monsters.

    We've had about 80 playtesters so far and estimate that the game needs about 3 more months of work.

    Q & A

    Q: How is this game different than Ravenloft?
    A: Ravenloft has dark lords that define the various regions. In Shadow of the Demon Lord the "entire world is completely screwed, the demon lord's shadow is creeping across the planet." In a way, the entity called Demon Lord defines the realm. The pervading darkness can even manifest in the characters as corruption. When you do terrible things in the game you may earn corruption and risk your soul dropping into Hell. This is kind of important. For mortal characters—humans for example, the soul survives death, lingers in the Underworld until all memory fades so it can be returned to a new body. Characters whose souls are weighted by corruption sink into the
    darkness of Hell to be cleansed of the evil they committed in their lives.

    Q: What is the goal of the protagonists?
    A: It can vary. They may want to stop the demon lord from destroying the world. Some may just live it up while they have the time and be as bad as they possibly can or they try to make it an easy transition to a world that is not under the demon lord’s control.

    I plan on making more games using the same game engine, i.e. the Shadow of the Demon Lord has fallen across a new world, a series of post-apocalyptic settings with different twists.

    Q: How does it differ from Dungeons and Dragons?
    A: One way is the focus on groups. A group has a level. Characters define themselves by paths, which are chosen at various levels, to reflect their stories. Everyone starts at level 0, with an ancestry—human, jotunn or nephilim—humans with a burning angelic souls in their chests. At level 1, you choose a novice path—warrior or magician, for example. And you choose other paths (expert and master) as your character grows in power and level.

    Q: What are some aspects of the game that encourage new players?
    A: SotDL only uses d20's and d6's. Not knowing which dice to use can be a feel bad moment for new players. The circumstantial bonuses are scooped up with an Asset and Complication system whereby d6's are rolled along with the d20. If the d6 is an Asset then the d6 result is added to the d20 roll, if it's a Complication then it's subtracted from the d20 roll. You can have multiple Assets or Complication dice on a roll, you take the highest result among them and apply that single number to the d20 roll.

    I pitched a similar bonus and penalty dice mechanic in D&D Next. I didn't like the feel bad moment that can happen with Advantage / Disadvantage, when you roll a Natural 20 but can't use it because of Disadvantage. That's bad for play experience.

    Q: I'm interested in the monsters and bestiaries of games.
    A: In 4e terms, you can think of Level 0 creatures as Minions, Level 3 creatures as Standards, Level 7 creatures as Elites, etc. The creatures are intended to be in the play experience throughout the playing experience, career of a character. For example, at higher levels you might fight 40 gnolls at once instead of 4. They'd be handled as some kind of swarm or mob, not 40 individual gnolls.

    "You're not going to survive against a Level 20 dude."

    Q: Tell me more about the setting.
    A: The implied setting is that the empire is in its last days. Demon-orcs are running amok and cracks are forming in reality while cultists are trying to release a hordes of demons from the Void.

    Q: What's the spell selection? What kind of magic are you using?
    A: When you learn a spell, it stays in your brain. You can start by casting a learned spell once. As your group’s level increases, gain more power you gain more castings of that spell. In the core game, spells have ranks from 0 to 5. Example: Fireburst blasts fire from your hands. At 1st level you can cast it once per day. When you reach 3rd level you can cast it 2/day, and 3/day at Level 7. Higher levels, if/when we do them, change the frequency; between levels 11 and 15 you might be able to cast it at-will.

    Spells are grouped by tradition. The "Black Magic tradition can curse someone or blow up their genitals." Spells from other traditions let transform people into monsters or awaken a forest to fight for you. When you make a tradition choice you get an at-will spell (rank o) and choose the spells you learn from your traditions. You'll get anywhere from 2 to 5 traditions over the life of the campaign and there's mechanics for retraining spell choices.

    Q: What happens after level 0/level 1?
    A: Low levels are reactionary gameplay. "Little johnny has grown a tentacle out of his back and is now killing cows." At Novice you branch out and explore the environment further. In Expert you make more choices: do I want to be a Ranger or a Champion, fight for the new god or the old faith? You're intentionally going out into the world to look for trouble. You could be a Captain at Master level, take on whole regions, engage the world in ways your character has not before. Level 11 you might be the king of your own domain, might be an archmage, start your own temple and create a new sect of your faith. The game world broadens as you play.

    Q: How many races and classes are there?
    A: That depends on the Kickstarter. Currently there are 12 Ancestries, stuff like Humans, Dwarfs, Elves are Faerie elves, they don't care about humans, they live forever unless killed by violence. Jotunn are half-giants, gnomes are elementals. The soul of a character survives the body and can be reincarnated over multiple campaigns. Cambion and Nephilim are human bodies with the spirit of a devil or angel in them.

    Q: It's hard enough to keep a group going, much less find one because of scheduling issues.
    A: You can start at different levels for different amount of gaming time. A level 7 character takes about 45 minutes to make, a level 0 character takes about 5. For a Call of Cthulhu type campaign, stay at level 0. For a 4e style game, jump in at Master Paths (level 7).

    Q: Where are the gods while the Demon Lord is doing this thing?
    A: The gods are largely powerless. They stole their dominion from the elder gods. The gods are flawed beings, constructs of mortal invention. Whether the gods really exist or not, who knows? There's no stats for the gods. The changeover from elder gods to current gods was a cataclysmic event in pre-history so it doesn't actually have to be there in your story.

    "Basically, the demon lord is coming. And he's hungry."

    Q: How does the theory of Hell play into the game?
    A: Things live in hell. As an immortal soul accumulates corruption and then dies, it is burdened by the weight of its misdeeds and sinks into hell. Infernal creatures spend as long as they possibly can to purify the soul through pain and feeding on the corruption stripped from it. Once the soul is cleansed and all memories lost the soul is sent back.

    There are elements of time spent in hell in the game mechanics. Something might survive from a previous life when and if a character comes back.

    Q: What's the level of tech in the game?
    A: Steampunk. There are rifles and clockwork automatons. Technomancy is a magical tradition that builds devices with magic like crossbow turrets.

    Q: Why do we have to wait?
    A: We've been playtesting for 10 months, need about 3 more of math testing, polish and refinement. It's the new nature of publishing. Kickstarter is a huge component. You don't launch a Kickstarter in December, because of Christmas. Same reason for January and February. It'll be in March, most likely, and it'll last 30 days, so I can resume a somewhat normal life. In the spring we'll get more testing in. The objective is to get it completed, done, and finished, then pay for art, editing, and printing with Kickstarter money.

    Q: Is it necessary to have a balanced party?
    A: With 4e there was lots of experience with dealing without a balanced party. SotDL has things like a 1/day minor self heal. You have a Health value and you take damage, when your damage equals your Health you're incapacitated. Healing rate equals 1/4 your Health value, elixirs of healing or catching your breath, as well as some spells, use your healing rate.

    There's no fixed list of spells or traditions. A mage who picks up the Life tradition will be good at healing.

    Q: Will there be other formats besides print and pdf?
    A: It depends on how the Kickstarter does.

    Q: How does Health work? Is it like D&D where you're fine as long as you have 1 HP or are there stages of Health?
    A: We experimented with a death spiral of suck effect in the first design of the game, but I really want the game to be a bit beer and pretzels. Stuff like a death spiral creates extra complexities for the audience I’m chasing. There are lots of games that already do that.

    There's an insanity mechanic. When you see something horrific you get a number of insanity points. You can spend insanity for tics and tremors to reduce your insanity score. When your insanity score equals your willpower score you go crazy.

    Q: What are the classes in the game?
    A: There are four Novice paths: a Fighter-type, Mage, Priest-type, and Rogue. At level 3 you choose an Expert Path such as Assassin or Wizard. But you don't have to start as a Rogue and then go Assassin. You could start as a priest and then become an assassin. You aren’t locked in by one class as you advance. You could, for example, start as an elf, become a warrior, switch to thief, and end as a diabolist.

    Q: What kinds of magic items are in the game?
    A: There are artifacts which are story driven magic items and enchanted objects, odd things you might find with a magical quirk.

    Q: What's the equipment system like?
    A: The coinage is a nod to Warhahmmer with the silver standard. You're not hunting down gold pieces and there are equipment packages for different starting Path levels.

    Q: What's the difference between a dagger and a sword when they both do a d6 in damage?
    A: I didn't want weapon proficiencies. Weapons instead have an ability score requirement to wield, like a Strength of 12 for a longsword which deals a bit more damage then the short sword. A greatsword has a Strength 15 requirement and the damage increases because of having a higher ability score. Weapons deal 1 point of damage for off-hand, 1d6 for main hands, 1d6+1 for two handed weapons. You have a complication for attacks with the weapon if you don't meet the requirement.

    Q: What are your plans for adventure designs?
    A: When I run an adventure I don't have time to read a 120-page book, nor do I want to. Every story is going to be 2 to 4 pages long. You can read it quickly and anything that's a reference to a creature points to the core book so there's no stat blocks to fill the pages.

    Q: What kind of tools for GM's are there?
    A: The GM chapter has events and story structure advice. It provides tools and guidance on building your own stories. It'll come with 11 adventure stories in it, written by gaming industry veterans. There's also guidance for building “balanced” encounters, though the game doesn’t use that terminology. An average combat might be worth 100 Challenge and you can use the challenge to “buy” monsters and traps "or you can throw a giant at a group of 1st level characters and see what happens."
    Last edited by Chambers; 2014-12-22 at 08:42 PM.
    "We have sent many to Hell, to smooth our way," said I, "and we are standing yet and holding blades. What more?"

  3. - Top - End - #3
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    Default Re: Shadow of the Demon Lord (Robert Schwalb's Dark Fantasy RPG)

    I've updated the Blog list with Rob's current blog entries.

    If you live in the Mid-South region (TN, AL, NC, etc) Rob's doing demo's of Shadow of the Demon Lord. Here's the current line up of demo's.

    Game Demo's
    • 12/6: The Game Keep in Nashville, TN at 1 PM
    • 12/10 (Tentative): Frontline Games in Clarksville, TN at 6 PM (Tentative)
    • 12/13: Orena Humphrey Public Library in Whitwell, TN
    • 12/20: Roll the Dice in Murfreesboro, TN from 1 PM to 9 PM
    • 12/27: The Deep, Comics and Games in Huntsville, AL (times TBD)
    • 01/10: The Wyvern's Tale in Asheville, NC; signing and Q&A 1:30 to 2:00, First Demo 2 to 4, Second Demo 5 to 7
    • 01/31: Library, Woodbury, TN from 1 PM until...


    Also, the Schwalb Entertainment facebook page hit 800 'likes' so Rob released this bit from the Game Master chapter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blood Moon Medallion
    A disk wrought from reddish metal and embossed with a skull-like visage on the front, the medallion hangs from a rusty chain that catches and pulls the hairs from the neck of anyone that wears it. When inspected in moonlight, the medallion gleams with baleful light.
    Raise the Dead: Once each night, you may use a simple action to choose one pile of bones or a corpse of Size 1 or smaller creature that you can see within short range. The target becomes a skeleton or a zombie until it becomes incapacitated.
    Upon creating a skeleton or zombie with this artifact, roll Willpower. A success lets you fully control the target until dawn, at which point the skeleton collapses into a pile of bones or the zombie falls down to become a corpse. A failure causes you to gain 1 insanity and the target becomes hostile to you and your companions until it becomes incapacitated.
    "We have sent many to Hell, to smooth our way," said I, "and we are standing yet and holding blades. What more?"

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    Default Re: Shadow of the Demon Lord (Robert Schwalb's Dark Fantasy RPG)

    Playtest Report: "The killing mist is going to wait until the slow round..."
    Number of Players: 4

    This evening we did combat testing against a variety of monsters using a handful of pregenerated high level Master Path characters. There was a pretty wide variety of paths represented, from the Jotun Warrior/Ranger/Dreadnought to the Cambion Magician/Scion/Pyromancer and the table favorite, the Orc Priest/Shaman/Weaponmaster. Fun tip: Pyromancers are really good at casting fire spells. I played two characters, a Rogue/Mountebank/Infiltrator - and after he had his head removed from his neck by a Skulltaker Beastman - I played a Rogue/Assassin/Executioner.

    The Mountebank and Assassin characters were interesting to play back to back as different visions of what the Rogue can become. As the name implies the Mountebank Rogue had talents that charmed and compelled enemies. During one fight I forced a Giant to trample through a band of Orcs and then sat him in a Wall of Fire. Even when we fought enemies that couldn't be charmed the Mountebank was still effective due to his Rogue talents for being sneaky and dealing backstabs. By comparison the Assassin Rogue was all about dealing handfuls of d6's in backstab and assassination attacks. Picture a Clockwork construct with two bloody hammers in it's hands creeping out of the darkness, gears silently turning as it stalks it's prey.

    The Dreadnought was a beast and glutton for punishment, at one time tanking 5 Orcs and a Giant by himself. One of the characters was a Chronomancer who disappeared into the future and came back with his future self to fight with us. Another character was a Warlock heavily invested in the Black Magic tradition. I'll just say that 'Hateful Defecation' is a spell that explains itself.

    Each character sheet was about a page and half long, with spellcasters having additional sheets for their printed out spells. Most of our tech was on one page and it only took a few minutes to figure out what each character's talents did, so picking up new characters was pretty easy especially given the high level.

    Re: the killing mist. Sometimes you'll be grateful that your character can't see what else is lurking in the mist.
    "We have sent many to Hell, to smooth our way," said I, "and we are standing yet and holding blades. What more?"

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    Default Re: Shadow of the Demon Lord (Robert Schwalb's Dark Fantasy RPG)

    Gaming Store Demo Update

    I'll be running one of the two tables at Roll the Dice this Saturday (Dec 20) in Murfreesboro, TN (Rob is running the other one). There are 2 tables scheduled at 1pm and 2 tables scheduled at 5pm. I'm not sure how many people have signed up for the table at this point, but if you're in the area and want to come by and play (or just watch), call the store (615-818-4219) to grab a seat.
    "We have sent many to Hell, to smooth our way," said I, "and we are standing yet and holding blades. What more?"

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    Default Re: Shadow of the Demon Lord (Robert Schwalb's Dark Fantasy RPG)

    Some previews from the Bestiary have been released as well as an updated character sheet.

    Horned Ogre
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    Muttering Maw
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    Character Sheet
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    "We have sent many to Hell, to smooth our way," said I, "and we are standing yet and holding blades. What more?"

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